As far as pre-seasons go, this will go down as smooth by Betis’ standards. The club have now played seven matches and remain unbeaten with their only non-win coming via a 1-1 draw with Everton. Since my last post they have beaten Fulham, Werder Bremen and Sporting Portugal and have won the Dresden Cup.
There is definitely a buzz around the place and an excitement for La Liga to start, even if our first fixture is the hardest of the lot – away to Barcelona. Things just don’t run this smoothly for Betis going off past experience, but perhaps now is the time for a change in fortune?
One thing that certainly is changing, is the squad personnel. A few weeks ago I brought you a run down of the six new faces that will be appearing in green and white next season (if you’ve forgotten about or would like to take another look at Rizi Durmisi, Jonas Martin, Charly Musonda, Nahuel, Felipe Gutiérrez or Aissa Mandi then venture back here.)
Since then Betis have added three more weapons to their arsenal in the way of Tonny Sanabria, Roman Zozulya and Manu Herrera. Here’s a fleeting look at all three players, with a ponder on the part they may play when the season kicks off properly.
I brought you a whole post on who Sanabria is and what he is all about here, but here’s a condensed version if you can’t be bothered to read that. Tonny Sanabria is a 20 year old Paraguayan who plies his trade as a striker. He is very much built in the same vision as Rubén Castro – fairly small, fast with a deadly finish.
Last season he played on loan at Sporting de Gijón but he has signed from Roma in a deal which sees the Italian giants retain half the rights. He is very highly rated and Betis are seeing his as a potential Rubén Castro boot filler once the great man calls it a day. Sanabria will play a big part this season and form one of the four main strikers. He scored 11 goals last season at Gijón and I hope he can tally up a few more this time around.
He’s already started to form a relationship with Rubén during pre-season and set him up with a peach of a cross for Rubén’s first goal of three against Sporting Portugal. Watch this space.
Betis’ 8th and first ever Ukrainian signing. Zozulya has signed from Ukrainian outfit Dnipro and is a full international, although he didn’t help Ukraine out too much during their Euro 2016 campaign. He’s 26 years old and signed on a three year deal.
He’s been described as a ‘soldier’, which isn’t just for that picture of him holding a rifle, but because of his playing style. He works tirelessly, hounds defenders and also chips in with the odd goal. His goalscoring record isn’t brilliant – 22 in 85 for Dnipro – but he offers the team much more. Betis haven’t really had this type of ‘worker’ player for a good while, especially upfront, so he could be a very clever move. He’s like to drag defenders around and create spaces for others to put teams to the slaughter.
He has worked with new Betis coach, Marcos Alvarez, before whilst he was in Ukraine so he comes recommended. He’s likely to be the 4th striker behind RC, Sanabria and Alex Alegria. An astute signing I’d say.
The last of the confirmed signings for now is goalkeeper Manu Herrera. At the age of 34 he’s been round the block a few time and will bring lots of experience to the squad as he acts as Betis’ third goalkeeper behind Adán and Dani Giménez.
Manu signs on a free after finishing with Zaragoza in the summer but has also played at Levante, Alcorón and Elche amongst others. He has signed for one season with the option for an extra.
At the beginning of the pre-season Sporting Director Miguel Torrecilla stated that he would like 10 new players at the club. We have nine so who will be the 10th? It’s looking more and more likely that it’ll be Spanish midfielder David López who played on loan at Espanyol last season but is registered with Napoli.